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Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris Original review posted at http://www.yourentertainmentcorner.com/?p=23385.

In the penultimate tale of the #1 New York Times Bestselling Sookie Stackhouse Novels (SSN), I have the strange feeling Charlaine Harris is fucking with us (pardon my French). You know what, I’m pretty sure I’m dead on target with my assessment because after reading Deadlocked, I felt cheated. Then after thinking on what I’d read, I realized Harris is perfectly setting up the final book in the series, which you know will leave readers *cough* Eric lovers *cough* saying “I knew it!” There are quite a few WTF moments and plot points I didn’t expect, but for the most part, I felt like I was reading a familiar Sookie Stackhouse story.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Deadlocked. Harris still has it when it comes to keeping readers locked into what’s going to happen next when she throws a mystery at you. The only thing is I didn’t really care about what was going to happen next because I felt there was no point. The mystery revolves around a dead girl found in Eric Northman’s front yard so of course, Sookie gets involved. The culprit takes me by surprise, as well as the motive behind the murder. But that’s not all Deadlocked is about. The story also focuses on Sookie finally coming to terms with what she wants, and getting long sought after answers. This is not about your typical SSN either. It’s dark, and brimming over with trouble and angst.

Sookie kind of reverts back to her old self (brave, independent, tan), although I couldn’t relate to her. I felt she had some important character growth up to this point in the series and thought she wasn’t just going to sit back and let things happen to her, but then she walks into a trap knowing it might possibly be a trap. WTF? I guess it was necessary to move the story forward because the plot gets derailed at this point, but whatevs. I’m done trying to wrap my head around it. Then of course there’s Eric, or the character who’s supposed to be Eric. I don’t know what blond Viking vampire Harris is trying to push off on us, but he’s not the Eric Northman we’ve come to know. His usual charm, wit and confidence are gone. To be fair, it can be attributed to the stress he’s under—being accused of murder, entertaining his King (Felipe de Castro), and staving off his intended (Freyda, Queen of Oklahoma). Not only is Eric absent most of the book, the few times he’s mentioned are fleeting and uneventful, leaving readers wondering about the change in Eric’s demeanor. Even Bill gets to spend more time with Sookie in his own manipulative sweet way. Most lovers of SSN read simply for the deliciousness that is Eric. You take that out, you have no oomph. But hey, what do I know? I’m just an avid fan of all things SSN.

I also felt Harris was dropping hints about Sookie’s potential future when Sookie has a day where she’s alone and feels like life is good. She doesn’t have any supernatural business to worry about and doesn’t mind the idea of being alone. But then Sookie also feels like she has no friends in the world and that left me feeling puzzled. So… what is Harris trying to tell us in this installment by pointing out how Sookie enjoys being alone, doesn’t have any friends she can lean on and repeatedly saying she loves Eric? Think on it a bit then get back to me.

Something readers may be happy to discover is Harris narrows down the field of Sookie’s potential suitors so there’s no guessing who she’ll end up with. Except there might be. While it appears to be obvious, it’s also obscure. Confused yet? Eric and Sookie must both make a choice regarding their relationship and they do, though it’s not clear where their individual decisions leave them. Sookie wants Eric to choose her over Freyda, but Eric wants Sookie to make the decision for him and solve the problem so he doesn’t have to. This is one area where I feel Harris is screwing with us. The cluviel dor (CD) comes into play here and Sookie finally uses it. (I won’t tell you how or why because it’s a pretty big deal, though not too farfetched). You may remember from Dead Reckoning she can only use it for herself or someone she loves. Now while the type of love she has for the person she uses it on isn’t specified, you can best believe the characters all think it has to do with the love a woman has for a man she’s devoted her heart to. It’s misleading because there’s nothing written in stone that says you must be in love with the person you use the CD on. At any rate, the ending left me teary-eyed because I was thinking the worst. I thought Sookie ruined her chance at true happiness (or at least what I propose her true happiness should be). But after pondering it for a while, I realize things are not always what they seem and I should have more faith in Harris. But I’ll be honest, I’m not holding my breath.

What I liked: Sookie’s character growth and meeting Freyda. What I didn’t like: the lack of action and suspense, the ridiculous amount of detail regarding Sookie’s day, and Harris tying up just about every single loose end the series could possibly have. She wastes precious pages on every citizen of Bon Temps, including Jane Bodehouse, the town drunk. Who gives a shit about Jane Bodehouse? No one, that’s who. The Fae are taken care of, the Weres get their 15 minutes to shine and all of Sookie’s friends and loved ones’ stories are carefully packaged and handed to us with a neat little bow on top. Even Quinn makes a cameo. Ugh… In the midst of this BS, I found myself wondering where Eric was, why he wasn’t with Sookie, and why they weren’t making plans to rid their lives of Felipe and Freyda? Felipe shows up to cause trouble though I’m not sure he achieves that goal yet. Freyda stops by to size up her competition and work on getting Eric to go through with their marriage. This is by far the most exciting part of the story and the most heartbreaking. I finally felt we were getting a clue as to what the hell was going to happen next with Sookie and Eric. But I just couldn’t take the angst anymore and wanted Harris to wave her magic wand and make it all better. Of course, if she’d done that, there wouldn’t be anything to look forward to in the 13th and final installment due out May 2013. So I’ll wait.

This wasn’t the worst I’ve read by Harris nor was it the greatest, but I closed the book feeling like a sucker. If you’re looking for the Harris of old who made us laugh and kept us involved, trying to solve the big mystery with Sookie in every story, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Harris is not at the top of her game with Deadlocked, leaving us in despair with more questions, and subtle hints almost as cryptic as Sookie’s great-grandfather, Niall. There are quite a few important nuggets dropped throughout the story so you have to read carefully. Harris still has something up her sleeve, though I’m not sure if it’s enough to satisfy her readers. Drop me a line here or at @ellemoe on Twitter so we can discuss.